Civil Services Examination (India)

The Civil Services Examination in India is a nationwide competitive examination. This exam, in short, known as CSE conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS). It is conducted in three phases – a preliminary examination consisting of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper-II also popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and a main examination consisting of nine papers of conventional (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying and only marks of seven are counted followed by a personality test (interview).


This Examination is considered to be the most difficult competitive examination in India. A single attempt takes two complete years of preparation – one year before the prelims and one year from prelims to interview. In total, one sits in the actual exam for 32 hours from prelims until the interview. On average, 10,00,000 to 11,00,000 candidates apply every year and the number of candidates sitting in the preliminary examination is approximately 560,000. Results for the Prelims are published in mid-August, while the final result is published in May of the next year.

Stage I: Preliminary Examination – Held in June every year. The results are announced in August.
Stage II: Mains
Examination – Held in October every year. The results are announced in January.
Personality Test (interview) – Held in March. The final results are usually announced in May.
The training program for the selected candidates usually commences the following September.


Eligibility for the examination is as follows:


  • For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, the candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • For other services, the candidate must be one of the following:
  1. A citizen of India.
  2. A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
  3. Tibetan refugee who settled permanently in India before 1 January 1962.
  4. A person of Indian origin who has migrated from PakistanMyanmarSri LankaKenyaUgandaTanzaniaZambiaMalawiZaireEthiopia, or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

Educational qualification

All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:

  1. A degree from a Central, State, or a Deemed university
  2. A degree received through correspondence or distance education
  3. A degree from an open university.
  4. A qualification recognized by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above

The following candidates are also eligible but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI, and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognized by the Association of Indian Universities.